California's a competitive place, perhaps no more so than when it comes to the hamster-wheel of one-upmanship known as competitive authenticity. And so when a group of well-meaning civic activists inaugurated gang tours of LA ("giving tourists a look at the cradle of the nation's gang culture"), it was perhaps inevitable that San Franciscans might look on with some jealousy. Which brings us to Tenderloin Tourism:
But now’s civic boosters have decided they want to add a highly unlikely stop to the tourist itinerary: the Uptown Tenderloin, the ragged, druggy and determinedly dingy domain of the city’s most down and out.
And what is the appeal?
“We offer a kind of grittiness you can’t find much anymore,” said Randy Shaw, a longtime San Francisco housing advocate and a driving force behind the idea of Tenderloin tourism. “And what is grittier than the Tenderloin?
Of course, if it's serious gritty authenticity you are looking for, nothing beats getting a tour of Naples by a genuine former mafioso.